To take your first steps in the Social Media Marketing World there is just one question you need to ask yourself

Are you willing to trade Control for Influence?

If you can let go of the need to control all communication to your consumer, of the need to define your product and believe that its not you who knows best, but actually your consumer. If you can give up a little control and place it in the hands of your consumer, if you can give them the power to decide, will the Wisdom of Crowds prevail or Chaos Reign?

It depends on how you organise your consumers world and effectively yours. Simply placing a feedback box, will never organise it well enough for your firm. It just won't cut ice with the product team. Random feedback is never taken seriously enough to implement.

On the other hand if you did what Dell has done and created an Idea Storm. Would anyone within the firm be able to say NO to 30000 votes?

The old school was a Dictatorship, where the company unilaterally decides whats good for itself and the people.

The Dell school is a Democracy, truly by the people and for the people. Which do you prefer?

 


Comments

Ishwar S
30/06/2009 11:31pm

All of the below comments from Siddharth, Shijo and Mihir, happened on facebook as a reaction to the original post.

I am sharing it here, because it adds immensely to the original post. First time I am attempting migrating comments from one platform to another

How I wish there was a tool that aggregates comments

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Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
30/06/2009 11:35pm

Democracy is great for retail but it gets tricky when you get to media/journalism. How much control does one cede? How much is it about setting the agenda/social responsibility etc. That's proving tough.

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Ishwar S
30/06/2009 11:36pm

Wikipedia is an ideal example of a democracy. Not sure about an accurate definition, but I would classify it as a media house, & a fairly accurate source of information. Most topics have an agenda that is set by the crowds, and pleasantly most topics contain neutral views. Probably I haven't understood exactly what you mean in the context of media... Read More. What Dell is doing is putting the responsibility for incremental innovation in the hands of the consumer. I am not sure if the democratic approach will result in break through innovation, but it makes the process of perfecting an existing product rather easy.

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Shijo George
30/06/2009 11:36pm

Great observation. I mean wiki works because it allows each individual to contribute. However an equally important point is the wiki framework.

Its this framework that makes wiki work. I mean while everybody is allowed to contribute ppl have to necessary operate within a template. Ppl cant just go around and change the look and feel of the pages. While every user can express his view not all are equal. Adminstrators, Arbitration committee, Bureaucrats, Stewards, founders etc.

The structure provides for a very strong governance practice which sorta internalises into its structure. The purpose of wiki is to be a source of content and the framework enables it to function smoothly. ... Read More

However as also correctly mentioned, involving everybody creates robust incremental innovation setups. But over a period it creates its own legacy and hinders breakthrough. Innovation somehow necessary requires the enigma of an Apple vs the open democracy of a wiki.

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Shijo George
30/06/2009 11:37pm

The other important question that comes to mind is whether everyone is equal. I mean would the design chief of Apple be equal to the 300000 votes of the Dell Idea storm.

A democracy can very beautifully capture the very best of todya. But tomorrow could only be vision by the design chief who superior to all others due to a host of reasons include his own capabilities, passion, experience etc etc.

But the important points is now what is better. The point is that these are two different approaches with its own advantanges and limitations. ... Read More

The google duo through their genius made the manual yahoo and other search processes obsolete. They were trendsetters. However can there be another such guy in the search business. My guess is that its going to be quite difficult because search has created its own set of legacy and huge infrastructure. These factors and the investments would make a garage attempt almost impossible.

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Shijo George
30/06/2009 11:37pm

However both google and microsoft appreciate this fact. And both of them have invest furiously on innovations. The huge research setup is definetly a place where not everybody is equal. But on same hand anybody with a good idea can have his say and get things done ;)

Random thoughts :))

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Mihir Jayaraman
30/06/2009 11:38pm

Nice points. A few thoughts from my side:
Agree with Shijo that the reasons Wiki became such a phenomenon because it systematized democracy in a well defined structure. Another amazing examples of incremental innovation that I have been involved in are the SAP Community Network and the Business Process Expert community. These are Creation Spaces ... Read Morethat have been intentionally crafted and thoughtfully laid out to provide the perfect scenario for large group collaboration. These have resulted in mapping complex business processes into SAP software by picking the best brains from world over - there is NO WAY this could have been done by a hoard of SAP specialists internally.
Ishwar - Wisdom of Crowds or more generally Adam Smith's Invisible Hand shall prevail in the free market ONLY when the mass acts in a principle-centred manner. Adam Smith himself makes this clear in his not so well known work "The Theory of Moral Sentiments". Look no more than the recent Wall Street crisis.

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Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
30/06/2009 11:38pm

first of all .. are we talking crowd sourcing or social media? they're related but again quite distinct .. wiki according to me is more crowd sourcing .. Idea Storm on the other hand is a mixture of both ... I think it's necessary to cede control in crowd sourcing (istock and threadless are living examples) but social media could be a a different animal ..

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Shijo George
30/06/2009 11:38pm

Sid has a point. The thread is no longer what it was ;) I found the concept of Dictatorship vs Democracy interesting. The extent of control is an everyday phenomenon to me. I often feel shackled and so do people under me ;) And thus went focus for a toss and I went all over the place :D

I may be deviating from what Ishwar started but found Mihir's... Read More point interesting. I mean I have heard of Microsoft and SAP community networks and they are phenomenal empowering agents. Every organization has some form of a mechanism to capture thoughts and ideas. However what most places lack is the structure of a say SAP Community Network.

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Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
30/06/2009 11:39pm

I don't know about SAP but I don't think we can generalize the Dell example. I mean .. can Caterpillar have a successful Idea Storm .. Surely not .. similarly .. McDonalds might succeed with crowd sourcing/social media but the Hilton could struggle ..

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Shijo George
30/06/2009 11:49pm

Very good point. Mine is very operational setup where we discourage innovation at the frontline. The brief to them is to stick to the process. Works very well in our setup. However it can be stiffling at times and despite being so operational there are a hundred ideas that if tapped could have $ implications.

The point here is that do you ... Read Morecentrally control innovation because you think you know best or do you have some mechanism of ensuring the other stakeholders esp the customer/consumer is also heard?

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Shijo George
30/06/2009 11:49pm

And btw I do interact at some level with McDonalds. Those buggers are extremely process driven. The fries no matter where you have it is always goin to be golden and never brown. The uniform consistency is due to a very high level of compliance.

However Hilton would necessary have to innovate and pay heed to peculiar needs of the different customers/consumers.

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Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
30/06/2009 11:50pm

I think it's also a brand thing ... I know that Hilton were reluctant to get into social media till recently because they weren't sure how it would affect their brand ... my point is .. there's no general thumb rule ..

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Shijo George
30/06/2009 11:50pm

Ok. The way I saw it was a little different. My focus was mainly to capture insights and knowledge to manage innovations. So it doesnt necessarily has to be in the public domain. But like what Ishwar said it has to be more than just a random feedback or a suggestion box.

And the participants could be the various stakeholders. And if we look from that perspective then the concept is valid for both Hilton and Caterpiller. More so than the rest I think.

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Ishwar S
30/06/2009 11:51pm

I must say I got more out of the comments than anyone could have from the original post...

@Sid Spot on about crowd sourcing vs social media and I might have got a little mixed up there, but sometimes as a marketer I see them closely related. Both give the consumer a voice that he didn't have earlier, both when used well can engage with the consumer and result in a vibrant involved community

@Sid Also intent wasn't to generalise or say everyone should do it, but that it is worth contemplating. Can Caterpillar do the same? Maybe... Maybe not. What if a large majority of the consumers wished a frequently accessed control button wasn't right at the bottom. A forum similar to The Idea Storm to highlight consumer pain points is still valid (even if it isn't open to the world)... Read More

@Mihir Superb thought... Will read up on the Moral Sentiments

@Shijo Your point on Is everyone equal was fantastic and something I hadn't considered.Relative importance will prove crucial in defining any structure

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